Being sheepish in the Year of the Goat

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In the Chinese system, 2015 is referred to as the Year of the Goat, Sheep or sometimes Ram. Officially, 2015 belongs to the sign wèi, which is identified with the yang; but look yáng up in a Chinese-English dictionary and you’ll find that it says ‘sheep’. But yáng does not actually mean ‘sheep’ at all: in a monolingual Chinese dictionary, the definition is as follows:1

A ruminant mammal, generally with horns on its head. Divided into a number of types, including  shânyáng, miányáng, língyáng, etc.

A little further investigation reveals that:

shânyáng (‘mountain yáng’) = goat

miányáng (‘cotton yáng’) = sheep

língyáng = gazelle

Thus, the Year of the Goat and the Year of the Sheep are equally correct because yáng covers both types of animal. People born within the relevant date ranges2 can be said to have been born in the “Year of the Goat” or “Year of the Ram”.

TABLE 1:
Start Date End Date Heavenly Branch
13 February 1907 1-Feb-08 Fire Goat
1 February 1919 19 February 1920 Earth Goat
17 February 1931 5 February 1932 Metal Goat
5 February 1943 24 January 1944 Water Goat
24 January 1955 11 February 1956 Wood Goat
9 February 1967 22 January 1968 Fire Goat
28 January 1979 15 February 1980 Earth Goat
15 February 1991 3 February 1992 Metal Goat
1 February 2003 21 January 2004 Water Goat
19 February 2015 7 February 2016 Wood Goat

For some there’s a stigma attached to the Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram; those born during it are thought not to be leader-like, and there are reports that some parents delay birth to avoid Sheep years because of the bad luck demonstrated by failed Empress Dowager Cixi (of Boxer Rebellion fame) in the Qing Dynasty.3

“Beware of Financial Loss”

The propensity for good fortune is said not to be very good for those born in a year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram, and that they will easily become involved in financial difficulties. Therefore, they should adopt conservative strategies when dealing with investments. They should try their best to increase their income, decrease their expenditure, and live within their means. Lottery fans should restrain themselves from gambling too much in order to avoid big losses.

In terms of fortune, according to this chart 1, the year starts with 3 bad months, picks up, but months 6 & 10 are terrible.

Source: http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/goat.aspSource: http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/goat.asp

“Beware of property”4

1. Herd of sheep

According to Chinese feng shui masters, 2015 is the Year of the Wood Goat/Sheep/Ram that carries a strong earth element. Wood on dry earth with the absence of metal and fire is not a good sign for growth.

Investors have to exercise extra caution. Gentle and timid are the traits of the sheep. It has no big ambition and lacks a fighting spirit. The sheep has a soft character and is not strong enough to suppress any instability and turbulence. If there is a perfect storm, nothing is powerful enough to get things under control.

2. The black sheep of the family/Scapegoat

The Chinese believe that nine out of ten goats are imperfect. Being born under the goat sign implies a life full of worries, hardships and misfortunes. That’s why many superstitious mothers-to-be in China chose to induce labour in the past few weeks just for a horse baby.

3. Like lambs to the slaughter

Have you seen how the lamb line up calmly and obediently for the slaughter without the slightest complaint for their tragic fate?

The character of the sheep is known to be tame. It is loyal and submissive. It always knows its place and behaves discreetly. It is a pessimist and believes in destiny.

The track record for yang years is pretty dodgy too:
Start Date End Date
13-Feb-07 01-Feb-08 Knickerbocker crasha
01-Feb-19 19-Feb-20 The start of the 1920-21 Depressionb
17-Feb-31 05-Feb-32 The global crash, GBP exits gold, Kreditanstalten failurec
05-Feb-43 24-Jan-44 Officially the final year of the Great Depression
24-Jan-55 11-Feb-56 1955-56 bull market ended with various crises including
Suez, IMF refusal to support UK
09-Feb-67 22-Jan-68 Nick Leeson born, GBP/gold pool crisis,
HK stock crash (left riots)
28-Jan-79 15-Feb-80 Dollar crash, bond market crash, Volcker intervention
15-Feb-91 03-Feb-92 Indian economic crisis,d Scandinavian bank crises,e
US recession S&L crisis, Japanese bank crisis
01-Feb-03 21-Jan-04 Positive year globally but bad in Asia because of SARS
19-Feb-15 07-Feb-16 ???

a The Panic of 1907 or Knickerbocker Crisis was a United States financial crisis that took place over a three week period starting in mid-October, when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on banks and trust companies. The 1907 panic eventually spread throughout the nation when many state and local banks and businesses entered bankruptcy. JP Morgan was credited with saving the day.

b In many ways the precursor of the Great Depression, in the farming sector. Bank failures started in early 1920 – income disparity spiralled out of control.

c Allen5 called 1931 “the year that made the great depression great” also the start of 1932 “the tragic year”.

d By the end of 1990, India was in a serious economic crisis, government was close to default, its central bank had refused new credit and FX reserves had fallen to three weeks’ worth of imports. The government had to airlift national gold reserves as a pledge to IMF for a loan to cover balance of payment debts.

e Swedish & Finnish Banking Crises were deep systemic crises of the entire financial sector from 1991–1993.

Whether or not you put your faith and money in this is of course your decision.

Footnotes

1 from Xiandai han’yu cidian

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goat_(zodiac)

3 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/chinese-new-year-is-it-the-year-of-the-ram-sheep-or-goat-10055872.html

4 Source: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/02/the-property-market-in-the-year-of-the-goat/

5 Eric H. Allen (2010) 1931: The Year of the Great Worldwide Financial Crash, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.